Millions stuck in lockdown as China's Covid-zero strategy unravels

The Chinese city of Xi'an has put its 13 million residents in a strict lockdown as Covid cases numbers surge to similar numbers seen at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

Xi'an, just less than 1000km southwest of Beijing, is in its fifth day of lockdown after reporting 175 new cases on Monday.

Since last week, Xi'an residents have not been allowed to leave the city without clearance from their employer or authorities.

A worker sprays disinfectant on a footpath in Xi'an.
Millions of people in Xi'an are in lockdown following a rise in cases. Source: AAP

China had been sticking to a 'Covid-zero' strategy —which many other countries have abandoned — involving moving to stop transmission as it occurs.

City disinfected

Xi'an has launched a city-wide disinfection campaign, with staffers spraying pathogen-killing solutions on surfaces of roads and buildings. Residents are advised not to touch plants after the disinfection.

Several news outlets reported the latest announcement informed locals that vehicles are not allowed on the roads unless they are assisting with disease control work, and police and health officials will “strictly inspect” cars, and those who break the rules could face 10 days in detention and a fine of 500 yuan ($108).

Footage from the BNO Newsroom Twitter account showed images of workers disinfecting the entire city as its residents remain in lockdown.

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Nationwide, China detected 182 local symptomatic cases for Monday, according to a statement by the National Health Commission, marking a fourth consecutive day of increased cases.

It's reportedly the city's "strictest" level of Covid restrictions, introduced in an effort to control the country’s worst outbreak in 21 months.

The rise in cases come just weeks before thousands of athletes and officials are expected to travel from overseas China is set to host the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, starting February 4.

with AAP

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